My selections for Top Ten Moments of the Decade have recently been posted at avp.com. These are the moments that didn’t make the cut, but most certainly deserve recognition. Every beach fan has an opinion, go here to share yours and join the debate.
HM) Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh’s victory in Cincinnati that brought an end to the 112-match winning streak. With arguably the greatest crowd on hand outside of Manhattan Beach, EY and Nicole did what no other team had been able to do for 53 straight weeks: beat Misty and Kerri. Granted, the golden girls were in the midst of a media blitz all week and did not enter the tournament as prepared as they normally are, and it was only a week following the second biggest tournament of their careers, so they deserved some time to come home and enjoy their colossal victory, but nobody expected such an amazing run to end, and the volleyball world was shocked when it did.
HM) Scott Ayakatubby’s 19th victory in Hermosa Beach ‘03 at age 38, just months following his brother Greg’s tragic death. The 19-17 third set victory over Casey Jennings and Matt Fuerbringer in the final was an emotional roller coaster for Ack and his acceptance speech illustrated exactly how much the win meant to him. It was his first and only victory in Hermosa Beach during his storied career.
HM) Cuervo Gold Crown Championship match in Boulder, Colorado ‘06 between Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal and Mike Lambert/Stein Metzger. The stars aligned and pitted the only two teams that had a chance at the $25,000 bonus – on top of the $50,000 for the winner of the tournament. The final was somewhat anticlimactic with Stein and Lambo winning 21-18, 21-15, but the match was heated. Lambo argued calls, threw sand in the air, yelled at everyone, and even bounced balls in warm-ups like it was ‘97 at Stanford. The difference in pay-out was the reason the match meant so much and Stein and Lambo flew home with $75,000 while Jake and Sean split $13,400.
HM) Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard’s FIVB victory in Rhodes, Greece ‘03. It was the first victory for an American men’s team on the FIVB in more than 50 events. Dain and Jeff lost only one set en route to their only international beach championship title.
HM) Dax Holdren and Todd Rogers’ comeback victory over recently crowned Olympic gold medalists Eric Fonoimoana and Dain Blanton in the finals of Hermosa Beach ‘01. Dax and Todd were down 13-7 in the third set with the “new” rally scoring system and came back to win 17-15 in one of the most memorable Hermosa Beach Open championship matches.
HM) Jen Kessy and April Ross’ win at the 2009 FIVB World Championships in Stavanger, Norway.
HM) Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser’s win at the 2007 FIVB World Championships in Gstaad, Switzerland.
HM) Hermosa Beach ‘09 – the whole tournament. The Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal vs. Casey Jennings/Matt Fuerbringer match as the sun went down on court five outside the fence. Casey Patterson and Ty Loomis’ back-to-back record breaking scores in the contender’s bracket, 16-21, 38-36, 19-17 over Albert Hanneman/Joey Dykstra and 20-22. 40-38, 15-10 over Jeff Nygaard/Jon Mayer – in which they survived something crazy like 20 match points. The moment in the third set of the finals between Phil/Todd and Sean/John where Hyden spiked a ball into Phil’s face and yelled the famous “haha!” causing Phil to show emotion for the first time in his career and fuel the rivalry even further. And, of course, the return of Kerri Walsh and Rachel Wacholder. Their match against Jen Kessy and April Ross was an incredible sight and anyone who witnessed their near upset victory to go to the semifinals went home with a gigantic smile on their face.